Processing a Runner’s Murder

Posted on January 10, 2014. Filed under: Running | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |


On New Year’s Eve day, 24-year-old Lauren Bump pulled into O.P. Schnabel Park on the west side of San Antonio sometime shortly before 3:00 pm.  I imagine she stood outside of her car and stretched, leaned her body left and right, arms overhead, lengthening her IT bands.  She may have grabbed an ankle, hiked it up behind her, pulled gently, first one side, then the other.

I imagine she found her favorite music on her iPod, stuck her buds in her ears, and took off at a slow and easy pace down the trail, out onto the Salado Greenway. She probably inhaled deeply, looked up into the sky, taking in the sun and birds and tranquility of the trails. It was perfect running weather, mid-50s at 3:00, and she smiled as she settled into her run.

I can imagine all of this because it’s what I would have done had it been me out there running.  It’s what I do each morning I go out for a run, gratefully anticipating the peace and time and space. It’s what I need. What keeps me right with myself, with the world.

Only, now, my peace is gone. Not only can I imagine Lauren setting out for her run, I can also imagine—in horrifying detail—how she must have felt, blindsided by a maniac with a knife slicing away her tranquility, her promise. Her life.

Like the rest of San Antonio and the running community here, I am stunned by Lauren’s brutal murder. In broad daylight. In a public and well-used area. I cannot imagine how her family must be reeling at their loss. I cannot imagine how someone could do such a thing.

And I cannot get past my anger.  Of all the many things associated with Lauren’s murder—I cannot call it her “death,” as that word seems too passive, implying no agent of action to have caused it—to be angry about, I’m not sure which weighs most heavily.

Perhaps it’s that I feel the need to change my way of life, one that I was happy with on December 30.  Maybe it’s that what’s driving the impetus for change is not the desire for self or community improvement, but fear. Nothing angers me more than fear. Usually, its presence makes me want to face its source head-on.  But this time, I feel like I can’t, because it’s not a man I’d be facing. Or a tall building or a nest of spiders or den of snakes.  Rather, the source of my anger is the knowledge that what happened to Lauren could have happened to anyone of us, any time, any place.

I choose to see the best in people because I like to believe that we all have something good and decent within us, that we are all capable of greatness.  I choose to see the promise in humanity.

But all the while, I know there are people out there like the man who murdered Lauren, and I see the flaw in my vision. What do we do with people like him?  I don’t have an answer.  Do you?

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